New York – The mother of Avonte Oquendo, the teenager who disappeared from his school in Queens last October and whose remains were found in January had warned a teacher that he needed to be watched at all times.
However according to a report released on Thursday by the independent investigator for the New York City school system, the note that Vanessa Fontaine wrote about her concerns, was never shared with administrators.
On October 4 a security guard saw Avonte running in a hallway and yelled out, “Excuse me!” Avonte did not respond and kept running, the guard was then distracted by another student who approached and hugged him.
The New York Times reports that around 12.37pm the same guard noticed an unguarded exit door was open and closed it. Video footage reviewed later that Avonte had gone through it a few minutes earlier.
The school soon realised that Avonte was missing, but because the guard believed Avonte had disappeared up a stairwell, the search focused inside the building.
The 12-page report by the special commissioner of investigation for the school system highlighted a series of errors. The report did not allege that any crime had occurred or recommend that any school employee should be punished.
Devon Puglia, a spokesman for the department said:
“We are reviewing the report closely and are committed to working diligently to prevent another tragedy like this from ever occurring again,”
No school employees have been disciplined over Avonte’s death.
Ms. Fontaine said at a news conference:
“Someone has to pay for this mistake,”
Avonte’s teacher at the Riverview School, Julie Murray, sent home a form in September 2013, parents could give the teacher information about their children. Avonte’s mother wrote:
“Please make sure you keep an eye out he likes to run. Need 1-1 supervisor will leave the building.”
Ms. Murray told investigators she had shared the warning with professionals who worked with her students. Staff escorting Avonte’s class from the lunchroom to recess on the day he disappeared said they did not know about the concern.
The report said that the person who left the door open remains unidentified
The original article in the New York Times by Al Bakermarch in the New York Times, can be read here